Angela Smith MP visited Barnsley College to meet with students and hear first-hand how they are affected by the lack of funding for transport. This was part of a national lobbying day on student transport organised by the Association of Colleges (AoC).
Currently school children benefit from free travel to school but no universal system exists to support the travel needs of 16-18 year olds, despite the fact that everyone is now required to participate in education and training until their eighteenth birthday.
In many parts of England young people aged 16 to 18 can face daily journeys by public transport if they choose a technical, professional or vocational career route.
The Association of Colleges is calling for the Government to update the transport rules to ensure local authorities undertake a full assessment of the travel needs of 16 to 18-year-olds to ensure they can choose the courses which best enable them to achieve their potential. They also want transport rights for 16 to 18-year-olds to mirror those which apply to school children so that all young people can choose courses which best enable them to achieve their potential.
Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: “I listened to the students’ accounts of the financial difficulties they sometimes face when travelling to and from college. This is an issue that needs close examination. Young people deserve to be able to attend college and gain the skills which will enable them to enjoy a bright future and realise their potential. It is important that transport does not prove to be a stumbling block which prevents them from doing so.”
Colin Booth OBE, Principal at Barnsley College, added: “Transport is a major factor for young people in accessing education or training in Barnsley and the surrounding area. In Further Education or sixth form colleges students often have to travel further than those that study at school because of the specialist provision that colleges offer.”
Angela Smith and Students
Richard Atkins, President of the Association of Colleges, added: “It is wrong that a student might have to choose a college based on travel costs and not the course they want to study. It is vital that Government reassesses the money made available to support transport for this age group. Young people should be able to choose courses best suited to achieve their potential – irrespective of location.”